Archive for August, 2009

Multitasking experts juggle multitude of media calls

August 31st, 2009

The authors of a study released last week on media multitasking did quite a bit of media juggling of their own. Communication Professor CLIFFORD NASS and his colleagues, lead author EYAL OPHIR, a researcher in Stanford’s Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab, and ANTHONY WAGNER, associate professor of psychology, found that those of us who try to manage tasks on multiple electronic devices at the same time are not effective at any of them. But perhaps that does not apply to media coverage. Nass “appeared” by live feed from the Stanford Video studio on several outlets including KQED Radio, NPR, BBC Radio (twice) and NBC television. Ophir did a live feed from the studio to WBUR in Boston. And that does not include all the attention the study received from newspapers and magazines including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today and the Times of London. According to IAN HSU, Stanford’s director of Internet media outreach, the Stanford News Service story and accompanying video by ADAM GORLICK, a social sciences writer, and JACK HUBBARD, associate director for broadcast, was viewed tens of thousands of times, mostly via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Alum primed to be Japan’s next premier . . .

August 31st, 2009
Alums Yukio Hatoyama, presumptive prime minister of Japan, and John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan, share a Cardinal moment.

Alums Yukio Hatoyama, presumptive prime minister of Japan, and John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan, share a Cardinal moment. (Phtotograph by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

Redesigning Japan’s government and economy probably wasn’t what YUKIO HATOYAMA had in mind when he studied engineering at Stanford. But more than three decades after leaving the Farm, a promise to shrink his country’s bureaucracy and shore up its economy helped Hatoyama lead his Democratic Party to a landslide victory in Sunday’s election, and secure for him the role as Japan’s presumptive next prime minister. Hatoyama earned a master’s in electrical engineering in 1972 and a master’s in operations research a year later. In 1976, he received a doctorate in operations research. On Thursday, Hatoyama met with another alum, JOHN ROOS, U.S. ambassador to Japan, in Tokyo.

JEFF GILBERT, the lead principal at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, Calif., had his mettle tested when he and two other staff members averted disaster by tackling a former student who showed up at school with 10 pipe bombs, a chain saw and a sword. Two of the bombs went off in an empty hallway before a teacher wrestled him to the floor. Gilbert and a counselor helped restrain the 17-year-old until police arrived. No one was injured. Gilbert, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford in 1989 and a master’s from the Stanford Teacher Education Program in 1990, was hailed as a hero by JON WEISMAN, a Los Angeles Times blogger and former freshman dorm mate. Hillsdale High School is one of STEP’s partner schools.

On a lighter note: Alums DRUE KATAOKA and SVETLOZAR KAZANJIEV tied the knot at MemChu Saturday, following a flurry of feature stories about their gift wish list, dubbed “The World’s First Startup Wedding Registry.” Their venture, the non-nuptial one, is called Aboomba, which is described by the New York Times as “a consumer Web company that is still in stealth mode.” A visit to the Aboomba website last week gave no clues, but directed you straight to the registry. “You know that whole department store imposed wedding registry ritual thing? We thought, like, why not rebel against it,” Kataoka, best known for her Japanese brush paintings, said in a video on the registry site. The couple, who met at Stanford, asked for such gifts as $134 for an upgrade from a first-aid kit to a week’s worth of real health insurance and $385 to feed a lawyer for an hour. Gifts under $100 included Red Bull on tap for a week ($52.41) and pizza for a week ($62.93 for Domino’s and $97.93 for Round Table). At the end of the gift list was a photo of an RSVP card. “Your attendance on August 29th: Priceless!”

High honors

August 24th, 2009

English Professor SHELLEY FISHER FISHKIN has been preserving history for a long time. Recently, she received the Mark Twain Circle Certificate of Merit “for long and distinguished service in the elucidation of the work, thought, life and art of Mark Twain.” As he presented the award on Aug. 9 in New York, University of Illinois English Professor Bruce Michelson, president of the organization, asked: “Can you think of anyone who has done more, in the past 20 years, to keep Mark Twain on the front page of the national newspapers and magazines? To get his work into the lights on Broadway? To bring the visual and textual experience of his first editions out of the rare book rooms and into the hands of new generations of ordinary readers?” Noting that Fishkin has “barrels of awards” already, Michelson added, “She doesn’t need this one – but for our own sake, we need for her to accept it.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced last week that it had named three former Stanford researchers among their 2009-2010 Science and Technology Policy fellows. The 190 Fellows named this year are doctoral-level scientists and master’s- and doctoral-level engineers who will spend a year working in federal agencies or congressional offices. They learn about science policy while providing valuable expertise to the government. JUDSEN BRUZGUL, who earned his doctorate in biological sciences in 2007 and did postdoctoral work at the Woods Institute for the Environment, will join the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Resources Management and Administration as an AAAS Energy, Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources Fellow. PRAJWAL KULKARNI, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees in applied physics from Stanford in 2005 and 2009, respectively, has been named an AAAS Energy, Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources Fellow with the EPA’s Office of the Science Adviser. MATTHEW POLIZZOTTO, who completed his postdoctoral work in environmental earth system science at Stanford in July, has been named an AAAS Diplomacy Fellow with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Natural Resources Management. Polizzotto also earned his PhD at Stanford in 2007 in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.

Kresge Auditorium becomes history

August 24th, 2009
Kresge Auditorium was demolished this summer to make way for a Law School building that is set to be completed in December 2010.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a gaping expanse where Kresge Auditorium used to be. The building was razed earlier this summer to make way for a new Law School building that is expected to be completed in December 2010. Kresge was built in the early ’70s and dedicated along with the Law School’s Crown Quadrangle in the fall of 1975. But while the school’s student population has remained pretty steady, the expansion of programs and centers has resulted in an increase in the number of faculty, staff and researchers there. Kresge, of course, was not just a venue for Law School activities. Author and Stanford alum MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM read from his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Hours, there. Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill talked about putting her body on the line by staging a protest in a 1,000-year-old Humboldt County redwood for 738 days.  F. W. de Klerk, the former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner, defended his record amid protesters. FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke at Kresge during the release on campus of a George W. Bush administration draft report on cybersecurity. Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson talked about the outing of his wife, former CIA officer Valerie Plam

e. The Rev. Bernice King remembered her father, Martin, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson honored César Chávez. Feminist Betty Friedan gave her perspective on aging at Kresge, and Maxine Hong Kingston talked to a mostly freshman audience about the endurance of her book The Woman Warrior. As for the building itself, you can watch a time-lapse video of the demolition on the Law School’s website.

mime-attachmentAnd as one building goes down, another goes up. A Centennial Time Capsule filled with donated items from faculty, students and staff was “interred” Aug. 19 in the floor of a classroom in the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, which is under construction at the School of Medicine. Items in the 90-pound silver box include pipettes, medical textbooks, news articles about Stanford, the Nov. 5, 2008, New York Times announcing Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, a Stanford campus map and an issue of Rolling Stone magazine with actor Orlando Bloom on the cover, signed by Stanford medical students. If all goes well, the Class of 2008 will open the capsule at their 50th alumni reunion in 2058.

- Elaine Ray

Greetings, Mr. President

August 17th, 2009

Another Stanford grad, CARLOS PASCUAL, who was named U.S. ambassador to Mexico earlier this summer, was in the news last week when he greeted President Obama when he arrived in Guadalajara for a mini-summit with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Pascual, who earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford in 1980, was a student of COIT “CHIP” BLACKER, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Pascual then became Blacker’s deputy on the National Security Council, and later Blacker’s successor as senior director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia on the NSC.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) waves next to U.S ambassador in Mexico Carlos Pascual as they arrival at the International airport in Guadalajara City August 9, 2009. U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will meet in Guadalajara to attend a summit of North American leaders on August 9 and 10.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) waves next to U.S ambassador in Mexico Carlos Pascual as they arrival at the International airport in Guadalajara City August 9, 2009. U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will meet in Guadalajara to attend a summit of North American leaders on August 9 and 10. (Photograph by Henry Romero / Reuters)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, ’44

August 17th, 2009

The nation mourned the death last week of Special Olympics founder EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER, sister of the late president and mother-in-law of California’s current governor. Kennedy Shriver earned a degree in sociology from Stanford in 1944.

Antiques Roadshow stops at Hoover …

August 17th, 2009

(Photograph Courtesy Hoover Institution)

A film crew for Antiques Roadshow was at the Hoover Institution last Friday to tape a feature on Hoover’s collection of World War I and II posters. The institution’s entire collection holds 100,000 political posters from around the world, 33,000 of which are cataloged in a searchable database.

Digging for answers

August 17th, 2009

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound? Perhaps it depends on whether the philosophers examining that question are on Facebook. Philosophy Professor KENNETH TAYLOR and Professor Emeritus JOHN PERRY, co-hosts of Philosophy Talk, a popular radio program that brings philosophy down to earth, are now hosting “Open Office Hours” on Stanford’s Facebook page.

But they’re not the only ones digging for answers with the help of Facebook. Students, staff and community members continue their work this summer on the excavation of the old men’s gymnasium, which was about to open when it bit the dust in the 1906 earthquake. The project, led by LAURA JONES, university archaeologist and director of heritage services, has uncovered historical artifacts. This summer’s dig, which started at the end of June and continues for a few more weeks, is chronicled on its Facebook fan page. Once competed, the dig will pave the way for the new campus concert hall named after longtime Stanford benefactors HELEN AND PETER BING, ’55, who have donated $50 million toward its construction on that site. You can schedule a tour of the site with DAVE DALY, the project’s public affairs director, at

And speaking of trees: Stanford is among the top 10 greenest colleges in the United States, according to treehugger, a Discovery Communications company. Stanford was recognized for updating all showerheads and faucets, which, according to the treehugger website, saves more than 120 million gallons of water annually. Treehugger also noted that the university is working to divert 75 percent of waste from landfills through reuse, recycling and composting and that Stanford also boasts one of the largest Zipcar membership programs, with more than 1,200 students participating. In cafeterias, which produce more than 10,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel each year, the website says, 100 percent of seafood served is listed as sustainable. Others in treehugger’s top 10 include Yale, Tufts and the University of Washington.


(Photograph by Rachel Skokowski)

When the university does use paper, it apparently does so with class. SHAWN ABBOTT, director of undergraduate admission, reports that Stanford’s printed viewbook, which introduces the university to prospective students, has won awards from the University and College Designers Association for overall excellence, photography and cover design, as well as a Gold Medal from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The admission office joins the Medical School Office of Communication and Public Affairs, which won six CASE awards for its news releases and a special issue of Stanford Medicine magazine, and Stanford Report, which also won a CASE award before it ended its print run earlier his year.

Stanford’s global reach . . .

August 12th, 2009

Stanford’s reach has always been global, and last week it really flexed its international muscle. On Aug. 4, just after American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were pardoned by the North Korean government with the help of former President (and former Stanford dad) Bill Clinton, the Korean Central News Agency released this photo via the Korean News Service and the Associated Press of Clinton seated next to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Also in the photo were former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and several “unidentified” individuals. One of those unnamed members of the delegation (standing next to the lone woman in the photo) was DAVID STRAUB, associate director of the Korean Studies Program in the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center (APARC).

Former President Bill Clinton, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il seated. Standing behind, second from the right is David Straub, associate director of the Korean Studies Program in the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center.

Former President Bill Clinton, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il seated. Standing behind, second from the right is David Straub, associate director of the Korean Studies Program in the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center. (Photograph: Korean News Service via the Associated Press)

And while Straub, SIEGFRIED HECKER, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, and DANIEL SNEIDER, associate director for research at APARC, were weighing in on North Korea, PRIYA SATIA, assistant professor of history and an expert on modern British history, was calling for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in an op-ed published by the Financial Times, her third opinion piece in the FT since May. Satia also was quoted last week in the Toronto National Post on the significance of the death of Harry Patch, the last surviving First World War veteran, who died last month at the age of 111. Earlier this year, Satia participated in a workshop given by The OpEd Project and hosted on campus by the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

In a ceremony last Thursday at the Hoover Institution, Director JOHN RAISIAN and historian ROBERT CONQUEST, a Hoover research fellow, were honored by the Republic of Poland for their contributions to that country. Radosław Sikorski, Poland’s minister of foreign affairs, presented Raisian with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit and Conquest with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit. RICHARD SOUSA, director of the Hoover Institution Library and Archives, was presented with the plaque of Amicus Poloniae (Friend of Poland) in recognition of his commitment to Polish concerns in the United States. “The Hoover Institution is deeply touched to receive such a distinguished honor and we’re proud to have the largest research collection on 20th-century Poland outside the country,” said Raisian, who is marking his 20th anniversary as director of the Hoover Institution this year.

UMRAN INAN, professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, has been named the fourth president of Koç University in Turkey. Inan, who is director of the Space, Telecommunications and Radioscience (STAR) Laboratory and heads the Very Low Frequency Group, will take a leave from Stanford and begin his appointment in Istanbul this fall.

Developing a new generation of global citizens is the theme of a two-day conference over which the Dalai Lama will preside in Washington, D.C., this fall. School of Education Professor LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND and Professors Emeriti NEL NODDINGS and LEE SHULMAN will be among the featured speakers at the event, titled Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century.

On the road again . . .

August 3rd, 2009

Heather Perry, an environmental engineer in Environmental Health and Safety competes in the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run, which started in Squaw Valley and ended in Auburn, Calif. Here she's seen on Cougar Rock at mile 12. (Photograph courtesy of Heather Perry)

When your cell phone lights up and it’s Stanford Police Chief LAURA WILSON, there’s a good chance it won’t be good news, but a few weeks ago, she called to relay just that. Her scoop? On June 28, HEATHER PERRY, an environmental engineer in Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S), had completed the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run, which started in Squaw Valley and ended in Auburn, Calif. The trail takes runners across rugged and mountainous terrain through high altitudes and extreme heat. “I arrived in Auburn 29 hours and 3 minutes after I set off from Squaw Valley, tired, dirty and totally elated,” said Perry. What made the accomplishment even sweeter was that Perry had trained, qualified and survived the lottery for the 2008 race, only to have organizers cancel it due to wildfires and bad air quality – three days before the event. “My car was already packed!” Perry recalled. This time she was joined on the home stretch by husband KEITH PERRY, emergency manager in EH&S, and their daughters Sarah Jo, 6, and Shannon, 9. “I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Keith and our daughters for allowing me the latitude to train and prepare not just once, but twice.”

Keith Devlin, a consulting professor in mathematics finishes the Death Ride, a 129-mile ride through the Sierra Nevada mountains on July 11, 2009. (Photograph courtesy of Keith Devlin)

…Going 129 miles, this time on wheels. KEITH DEVLIN, a consulting professor in mathematics, also known as the “Math Guy” for his appearances on National Public Radio, endured one of the toughest bike rides around, the Death Ride in the Sierra. The route is uphill, and then uphill again, and again, for 11 hours. “Beautiful but grueling,” he said.

…And speaking of folks on the move, last weekend four university administrators were among the more than 40 runners carrying a solar-powered torch through campus to inaugurate the 2009 Summer National Senior Games. They were PATRICK DUNKLEY, senior university counsel; PAUL GOLDSTEIN, director of financial and strategic studies in the University Budget Office; RANDY LIVINGSTON, vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer; and TIM WARNER, vice provost for budget and auxiliaries management.